Power button Touch ID on the iPad Air 4 was an 'incredible feat'

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2022
A pair of Apple executives have discussed changes to the iPad introduced in the iPad Air 4, including the "incredible feat of engineering" to add a Touch ID sensor to the power button on the new model.

The power button on the iPad Air 4 now houses the Touch ID sensor.
The power button on the iPad Air 4 now houses the Touch ID sensor.


Apple revealed its iPad Air 4 on September 15, complete with an updated A14 Bionic chip, a design inspired by the iPad Pro line, and a larger 10.9-inch display. Arguably the biggest departure for the iPad Air is its biometric alterations, with Touch ID moved from the now-gone Home button to the power button on the top.

Speaking on the iJustine and Jenna Ezarik podcast Same Brain published on Saturday, Apple VP of hardware engineering John Ternus and Apple VP of product marketing Bob Borchers talked about the changes that the iPad lineup underwent during the September event.

On the subject of Touch ID on the tablet, Borchers described the change as "an incredible feat of engineering to get that fingerprint sensor with all of the capability and all of the security into that form factor."



When asked if the power button Touch ID was using the same technology as the original but in a smaller form factor, Ternus suggested it was more an "evolution of the technology" employed by the system. "We wanted to get to the full-screen design and so we wanted to get rid of the Home button on the chin, and so we had to come up with another place for the Touch ID sensor."

"What made it so challenging is this really narrow aspect ratio that it has," Ternus offered, due to being on the top of a slimline button. "If you think about it, it's only ever seeing a smaller slice of your fingerprint than what a traditional, you know, what our older sensor could do."

Ternus continued "it has to be incredibly sensitive and it also has to capture as you go through the enrollment process and then as it continues to adapt over time, a broader view of the fingerprints. So no matter how you touch it with your finger, it's got that particular portion captured and so it can do the match."

A "lot of algorithm work, a lot of hardcore silicon" was put into practice to create "such a capable sensor in such a tiny little space," but one that Borchers pointed out was "a really sophisticated space" due to the other items in the region that have to be managed while introducing a new sensor.

"On the cellular iPads, the top portion of the enclosure is the antenna," Ternus explained, which meant they had to place "this incredibly sensitive Touch ID sensor right inside an incredibly sensitive antenna, and had to figure out how to make them work with each other and not be talking over each other and causing interference."

"As these products become more feature rich, and obviously more compact and condensed, it's becoming more and more critical that our teams are collaborating really, really tightly together," he continued, "because the Touch ID team and the antenna team had to be in lockstep through the entire engineering process."

Apple's design for a power button Touch ID sensor may find its way into more products in the future. One day before the iPad Air 4's launch, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo forecasted that more iPad models that lack Face ID will adopt the change in 2021.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 45
    Stretches credibility since it’s not like Apple is the first to have this capability
    elijahgwilliamlondonprismaticschemengin1
  • Reply 2 of 45
    hmlongcohmlongco Posts: 542member
    Stretches credibility since it’s not like Apple is the first to have this capability
    I suspect that once more it's a case of Apple taking a feature and actually doing it right....

    https://beebom.com/galaxy-a7-power-button-fingerprint-scanner-face-unlock/
    williamlondoncaladaniangregoriusmbloggerblograzorpitgilly33StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 45
    red oakred oak Posts: 1,093member
    It is the incredible thought and execution on things that largely get taken for granted that makes Apple such a special company 

    Apple's iPad lineup is amazing 
    williamlondoncaladanianmac_dogqwerty52gregoriusmPetrolDavegilly33MisterKitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 45
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,774member
    hmlongco said:
    Stretches credibility since it’s not like Apple is the first to have this capability
    I suspect that once more it's a case of Apple taking a feature and actually doing it right....

    https://beebom.com/galaxy-a7-power-button-fingerprint-scanner-face-unlock/
    Well Sony had it in Q4 2015 (except in the US, because Apple had patented a fingerprint reader in a power button in Q2 2015) and it is as fast as the one on the then current 6S. So really, Sony beat them to the punch by 4 years, which also means this is 4 year old tech that Apple is touting as an "incredible feat". That said, I have no idea how secure the Sony one is comparatively. The touch sensors are essentially ultra-high resolution CMOS-based touchscreens, high enough resolution to capture the ridges of your fingerprint in detail high with enough resolution to authenticate. 

    Also:
    "On the cellular iPads, the top portion of the enclosure is the antenna," Ternus explained, which meant they had to place "this incredibly sensitive Touch ID sensor right inside an incredibly sensitive antenna, and had to figure out how to make them work with each other and not be talking over each other and causing interference."

    Surely a simple solution is turn off the RF for a few hundred milliseconds while the fingerprint snapshot is taken, as to not affect the sensor, which wouldn't drop the cellular connections as they're easily robust enough to lose several seconds of data. 

    This all sounds like a lot of marketing bluster to me. 

    edited October 2020 williamlondonChris_Saulflyingdpprismatics[Deleted User]docbburkmuthuk_vanalingamchemengin1philboogie
  • Reply 5 of 45
    retrogustoretrogusto Posts: 1,118member
    I’m not sure how much data transfer I’d want my iPad to be doing while it’s locked anyway. Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems like most of the operations where you wouldn’t want a split-second of interference would take place when you’re actively using the iPad in its unlocked state. But just because a few other highly advanced tech companies have accomplished something similar doesn’t mean that it isn’t difficult to achieve. 
    spock1234watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 45
    silvergold84silvergold84 Posts: 107unconfirmed, member
    Someone report that android had it .. well, on android nothing work for real. Put a toy sensor on the bottom isn’t hard. Put the real Touch ID on iPhone is another matter. Consider that galaxy had that without cryptography. Also the Knox got the pin of access in clear. On the last galaxy if you put a screen protector then anyone were able to unlock the phone . 
    edited October 2020 williamlondoncaladaniangregoriusmspock1234StrangeDayswatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 7 of 45
    XedXed Posts: 2,622member
    elijahg said:
    hmlongco said:
    Stretches credibility since it’s not like Apple is the first to have this capability
    I suspect that once more it's a case of Apple taking a feature and actually doing it right....

    https://beebom.com/galaxy-a7-power-button-fingerprint-scanner-face-unlock/
    Well Sony had it in Q4 2015 (except in the US, because Apple had patented a fingerprint reader in a power button in Q2 2015) and it is as fast as the one on the then current 6S. So really, Sony beat them to the punch by 4 years, which also means this is 4 year old tech that Apple is touting as an "incredible feat". That said, I have no idea how secure the Sony one is comparatively. 

    Also:
    "On the cellular iPads, the top portion of the enclosure is the antenna," Ternus explained, which meant they had to place "this incredibly sensitive Touch ID sensor right inside an incredibly sensitive antenna, and had to figure out how to make them work with each other and not be talking over each other and causing interference."

    Surely a simple solution is turn off the RF for a few hundred milliseconds while the fingerprint snapshot is taken, as to not affect the sensor, which wouldn't drop the cellular connections as they're easily robust enough to lose several seconds of data. 

    This all sounds like a lot of marketing bluster to me. 

    Which means you have no idea what it took to put a fast and secure version of Touch ID into the Sleep/Wake button.

    If we are talking about technically having fingerprint recognition then it could've been done decades ago with those thin bar that you swipe your finger across, but note that Apple never once added that and your comments would also imply that Touch ID was never an impressive or advanced biometric inclusion at any point simply because it was after someone else had some very basic option. Do you not see the fault in your logic? It's like saying the Sistine Chapel is on par with the botched restoration of "Ecce Homo" because they're both religious art.
    edited October 2020 longpathwilliamlondongregoriusmrandominternetpersonspock1234bloggerblogPetrolDavechiarazorpitpulseimages
  • Reply 8 of 45
    I am not sure that the location of the Touch ID button is user friendly.
    While it should work to unlock / wake up the device, I use many apps that feature Touch ID authentication.
    The home button was easily accessible, now you have to use the button on the side of the device which may not be so easy to access when the iPad lays on a table.
    I would have preferred to have Touch ID in the display (as some competitors did) but maybe there’s a reason Apple didn’t do that...
    williamlondonelijahggregoriusm
  • Reply 9 of 45
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,719member
    I don't want to take away from the great work Apple did with incorporating TouchID within the power button they could have simply used FaceID to pull off an all-screen design.  There's enough bezel there to do it.  FaceID is very convenient on a big screen device like an iPad.
    williamlondonflyingdpdocbburkwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 45
    I don't want to take away from the great work Apple did with incorporating TouchID within the power button they could have simply used FaceID to pull off an all-screen design.  There's enough bezel there to do it.  FaceID is very convenient on a big screen device like an iPad.
    Could well be more costly than this “incredible feat”
    williamlondonspock1234watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 11 of 45
    pk22901pk22901 Posts: 153member
    I don't want to take away from the great work Apple did with incorporating TouchID within the power button they could have simply used FaceID to pull off an all-screen design.  There's enough bezel there to do it.  FaceID is very convenient on a big screen device like an iPad.
    Maybe Apple is replacing Face ID with Touch ID going forward. Every one of its devices can eventually include this Touch ID tech except for today's Watch. Refining this for the Watch may come soon. 

    Why? It may be less self-conscious than FaceID and maybe being much more secure. (Just a surmise.)
    williamlondongilly33watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 45
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,774member
    Xed said:
    elijahg said:
    hmlongco said:
    Stretches credibility since it’s not like Apple is the first to have this capability
    I suspect that once more it's a case of Apple taking a feature and actually doing it right....

    https://beebom.com/galaxy-a7-power-button-fingerprint-scanner-face-unlock/
    Well Sony had it in Q4 2015 (except in the US, because Apple had patented a fingerprint reader in a power button in Q2 2015) and it is as fast as the one on the then current 6S. So really, Sony beat them to the punch by 4 years, which also means this is 4 year old tech that Apple is touting as an "incredible feat". That said, I have no idea how secure the Sony one is comparatively. 

    Also:
    "On the cellular iPads, the top portion of the enclosure is the antenna," Ternus explained, which meant they had to place "this incredibly sensitive Touch ID sensor right inside an incredibly sensitive antenna, and had to figure out how to make them work with each other and not be talking over each other and causing interference."

    Surely a simple solution is turn off the RF for a few hundred milliseconds while the fingerprint snapshot is taken, as to not affect the sensor, which wouldn't drop the cellular connections as they're easily robust enough to lose several seconds of data. 

    This all sounds like a lot of marketing bluster to me. 

    Which means you have no idea what it took to put a fast and secure version of Touch ID into the Sleep/Wake button.

    If we are talking about technically having fingerprint recognition then it could've been done decades ago with those thin bar that you swipe your finger across, but note that Apple never once added that and your comments would also imply that Touch ID was never an impressive or advanced biometric inclusion at any point simply because it was after someone else had some very basic option. Do you not see the fault in your logic? It's like saying the Sistine Chapel is on par with the botched restoration of "Ecce Homo" because they're both religious art.
    Well, I do, as I said and you conveniently edited out: 
    The touch sensors are essentially ultra-high resolution CMOS-based touchscreens, high enough resolution to capture the ridges of your fingerprint in detail high with enough resolution to authenticate.

    There is no fault in my logic because I did not imply that TouchID was not impressive, you are using a strawman argument to disprove something I did not say. 

    The original TouchID was impressive, and at the time capacitive fingerprint readers were extremely rare, no one else had them. Squeezing all that into a button for the first time was an incredible feat. An entirely new form of an existing concept (that works very well) is what made the original TouchID impressive. Reshaping the button that uses preexisting tech to match what a competitor had 4 years prior is not an "incredible feat". 

    The reason Apple isn't using the bar method is because it required IR LEDs in addition to the sensor and was about 10mm thick. Sony is using capacitive sensing in their button, just like Apple. The security of it is mostly down to the resolution and the software, and there have been no reports of the Sony sensor being fooled any more easily than TouchID, which is good, but isn't infallible. Sony's in-button sensing was a first, and as such was more of an "incredible feat" than Apple's version 4 years later, though it again is just an evolution of a capacitive sensor. Apple seems to imply their sensor is "incredible" because of its apparent immunity to RF noise. 

    Yes, what your strawman would be like saying the Sistine Chapel is on par with the restoration of Ecce Homo. But my argument is not that. It is that the original TouchID was much more impressive because whilst people always built cathedrals (sensors) from mud, Apple came along and built them from stone instead. Sony then reshaped that chapel into something much more sleek, but still out of stone, and 4 years later, Apple did the same and called it an "incredible feat" because they did it.

    Perhaps instead of lapping up Apple's marketing, try using a more neutral stance to see the difference between actual "incredible feats" such as the original TouchID, and this, an evolution of already existing tech.


    edited October 2020 williamlondonflyingdpavon b7prismaticsMplsP[Deleted User]muthuk_vanalingambeowulfschmidtAlex1Nphilboogie
  • Reply 13 of 45
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,774member
    pk22901 said:
    I don't want to take away from the great work Apple did with incorporating TouchID within the power button they could have simply used FaceID to pull off an all-screen design.  There's enough bezel there to do it.  FaceID is very convenient on a big screen device like an iPad.
    Maybe Apple is replacing Face ID with Touch ID going forward. Every one of its devices can eventually include this Touch ID tech except for today's Watch. Refining this for the Watch may come soon. 

    Why? It may be less self-conscious than FaceID and maybe being much more secure. (Just a surmise.)
    I think *both* would be best. The attention aware stuff with FaceID is great, and it's less prone to error than TouchID. A wet or gloved finger breaks TouchID completely. But in a masked world, TouchID isn't affected. Also with FaceID you only have to look at the phone and you can see your notifications, but you would have to fumble to put your finger on the power button for TouchID.
    caladanianwilliamlondonaderutterprismaticsdocbburkrazorpitAlex1Njony0
  • Reply 14 of 45
    M68000M68000 Posts: 765member
    Nice article.  Hopefully Apple is working on ultrasonic under screen Touch ID for a future iPhone.  That could be both so cool and convenient.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 45
    kmareikmarei Posts: 191member
    Power button has fingerprint reader on my work surface duo and it works great
    and my brothers Xperia had it about 2-3 years ago 
    not sure what the fuss is about
    maybe this is new for apple, but it's certainly not new elsewhere 
    williamlondonmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 16 of 45
    qwerty52qwerty52 Posts: 367member
    elijahg said:
    hmlongco said:
    Stretches credibility since it’s not like Apple is the first to have this capability
    I suspect that once more it's a case of Apple taking a feature and actually doing it right....

    https://beebom.com/galaxy-a7-power-button-fingerprint-scanner-face-unlock/
    Well Sony had it in Q4 2015 (except in the US, because Apple had patented a fingerprint reader in a power button in Q2 2015) and it is as fast as the one on the then current 6S. So really, Sony beat them to the punch by 4 years, which also means this is 4 year old tech that Apple is touting as an "incredible feat". That said, I have no idea how secure the Sony one is comparatively. The touch sensors are essentially ultra-high resolution CMOS-based touchscreens, high enough resolution to capture the ridges of your fingerprint in detail high with enough resolution to authenticate. 

    Also:
    "On the cellular iPads, the top portion of the enclosure is the antenna," Ternus explained, which meant they had to place "this incredibly sensitive Touch ID sensor right inside an incredibly sensitive antenna, and had to figure out how to make them work with each other and not be talking over each other and causing interference."

    Surely a simple solution is turn off the RF for a few hundred milliseconds while the fingerprint snapshot is taken, as to not affect the sensor, which wouldn't drop the cellular connections as they're easily robust enough to lose several seconds of data. 

    This all sounds like a lot of marketing bluster to me. 

    More longer before Sony, all Windows PCs on the market were supplied with  such a finger print scanner, and nobody used them, because they were useless.
    So, what do you prefer: to be first on the market with something that doesn’t works, or to be first on the market with something that perfectly works?
    williamlondonrazorpitStrangeDayswatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 17 of 45
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,917member
    Always negatively mental wired people will say, big deal as others have implemented similar but dear morons, let me ask you. Does it work flawlessly or just hit and miss like we have seen in Android phones/tablets ? When Apple implements tech, it just works. That is why we buy and pay whatever.
    I am getting more confident that Apple will put TouchId to power button on 2022 Spring iPhone SE 3 allowing larger screen and same time keeping lower price.
    edited October 2020 gregoriusmwilliamlondonStrangeDayswatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 18 of 45
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,774member
    qwerty52 said:
    elijahg said:
    hmlongco said:
    Stretches credibility since it’s not like Apple is the first to have this capability
    I suspect that once more it's a case of Apple taking a feature and actually doing it right....

    https://beebom.com/galaxy-a7-power-button-fingerprint-scanner-face-unlock/
    Well Sony had it in Q4 2015 (except in the US, because Apple had patented a fingerprint reader in a power button in Q2 2015) and it is as fast as the one on the then current 6S. So really, Sony beat them to the punch by 4 years, which also means this is 4 year old tech that Apple is touting as an "incredible feat". That said, I have no idea how secure the Sony one is comparatively. The touch sensors are essentially ultra-high resolution CMOS-based touchscreens, high enough resolution to capture the ridges of your fingerprint in detail high with enough resolution to authenticate. 

    Also:
    "On the cellular iPads, the top portion of the enclosure is the antenna," Ternus explained, which meant they had to place "this incredibly sensitive Touch ID sensor right inside an incredibly sensitive antenna, and had to figure out how to make them work with each other and not be talking over each other and causing interference."

    Surely a simple solution is turn off the RF for a few hundred milliseconds while the fingerprint snapshot is taken, as to not affect the sensor, which wouldn't drop the cellular connections as they're easily robust enough to lose several seconds of data. 

    This all sounds like a lot of marketing bluster to me. 

    More longer before Sony, all Windows PCs on the market were supplied with  such a finger print scanner, and nobody used them, because they were useless.
    So, what do you prefer: to be first on the market with something that doesn’t works, or to be first on the market with something that perfectly works?
    As above, they were not the same thing. They were not capacitive like the Sony and Apple ones.
  • Reply 19 of 45
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,774member

    wood1208 said:
    Always negatively mental wired people will say, big deal as others have implemented similar but dear morons, let me ask you. Does it work flawlessly or just hit and miss like we have seen in Android phones/tablets ? When Apple implements tech, it just works. That is why we buy and pay whatever.
    I am getting more confident that Apple will put TouchId to power button on 2022 Spring iPhone SE 3 allowing larger screen and same time keeping lower price.
    Can't get much more hit and miss than Siri. Not sure you can get much worse than the "Hey Siri" activation either, it's a disaster. Those butterfly keyboards were none too flawless too. And how about the fix for iOS 14 battery drain being "reset your phone"? You'll find those "negatively mental wired people" are actually realists who aren't blinded by their own fanboyism or Apple's marketing. They are here because they want Apple's products to actually be good, rather than being told they're good by the marketing department.

    Also supporting my claim that it's marketing bluster is that Apple's VP of marketing was the one that called it an "incredible feat":
    On the subject of Touch ID on the tablet, Borchers described the change as "an incredible feat of engineering to get that fingerprint sensor with all of the capability and all of the security into that form factor." 

    Whereas the VP of hardware engineering, who actually knew what went on to get TouchID into the power button said:

    When asked if the power button Touch ID was using the same technology as the original but in a smaller form factor, Ternus suggested it was more an "evolution of the technology" employed by the system. 
    edited October 2020 Alex1N
  • Reply 20 of 45
    Rarararatah.....who cares, provided it works as designed for that purpose.....then that’s great.
    Hank2.0Alex1Nwatto_cobra
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